Free Activities for Toddlers in Boston
Boston, Massachusetts, is known as the birthplace of the American Revolution, and everywhere you turn history abounds. But when you've got a toddler in tow, historic landmarks aren't usually their cup of tea. Fortunately, scattered around the most visited tourist areas of the city are toddler-friendly spots that cost nothing.
Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market
These two tourist spots are adjacent to one another, making them easy to explore with little ones. Both locations feature Boston-themed memorabilia and an abundance of food choices-- with plenty of snacks, treats, and healthy meals for the kids. You can also find decent public bathrooms here (a commodity in the city).
But the best part about visiting Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market in the spring, summer, and fall is the free entertainment. All along the cobblestone pedestrian walkways on the front, back, and sides of the buildings you can find a number of acts performing for your amusement (and for donations). A family favorite is the various hip hop groups that perform to good beats and have a great sense of humor. Some even have an audience participation portion where tweens, teens, and adults may be selected from the crowd to play a role in the show.
If hip hop dancing isn't your (or your toddler's) thing, find the balancing/contortionist acts. These guys and gals stand atop rickety towers and thread themselves through rings, all while delivering clever one-liners.
A variety of musicians make their stages here, too. You can find singers at microphones, seated at pianos, and strumming guitars, playing original songs and covers of famous hits. You might also catch a couple of guys playing drums on buckets, pans, and pots.
And, one street over from Quincy Market, horse-drawn carriages park their buggies and give the horses a rest. This is a quiet spot to horse-gaze.
Boston Common is America's oldest park, and because of its prime location in the heart of the city, there is always something to do. If running around on the swaths of green grass isn't entertaining enough, find the Boston Common Playground. The Playground has recently been updated, and during daytime hours it is the place to be for the under-ten set.
Adjacent to the playground, the Frog Pond is open during the summer months and features a massive fountain in the middle. The fountain sprays water high into the air, and kiddos love to splash in the water as it plummets back down. The Frog Pond is shallow; at its deepest it is less than six inches deep, so it is perfect for cooling off on a hot day. The Frog Pond also has a small quick service window for snacks and a public bathroom. With plenty of trees for shade, this area of Boston Common is ideal for relaxing with the family.
Artists frequently display their creations in Boston Common, so if you've got a little one with a penchant for paint, a stroll by the artwork might be right up your alley.
Performances and festivals are also prevalent in Boston Common. Catch one of these free shows and you won't be able to stop your toddler from dancing.
Boston Public Garden
Near Boston Common, you will find the Boston Public Garden. The Garden features fountains, statues, incredible landscaping, and-- at its heart-- the duck pond. The duck pond was made famous in the children's story Make Way for Ducklings, and a statue inspired by the book resides here, too. The duck pond (on which float ducks, geese, and swans) is a beautiful location. Toddlers will love to see the birds swimming in the water-- and swarming for food dropped by visitors.
Often around the Public Garden you can also find performers. Some share their songs using a violin or guitar. Others dub themselves a one-man-band and wear extravagant contraptions sure to catch the eye of your little one.
Throughout Boston Public Garden, shaded benches provide ample seating for grown ups, and well-maintained grassy areas are perfect for the kids. Let them dance, jump, roll, and giggle in this oasis in the big city.
Christopher Columbus Park
A lesser-known park located between the New England Aquarium and the North End, Christopher Columbus Park is a jewel of the city. Besides soft green grass and well-paved walkways, this park rests beside Boston Harbor. Here, you can watch boats come and go on the choppy seas and watch planes arrive and depart overhead. (Boston's Logan International Airport is just across the Harbor.)
Christopher Columbus Park is also a great place to cool off. A good-sized splash area is located here. With buttons to push to control the squirting water, little ones will have a blast trying to figure out where the water will come from next.
And if the Boston Common Playground was too busy for your liking, on the right side of the park (toward the North End) is a smaller but much less crowded playground. This one features slides of various heights, plenty of climbing apparatuses, and a sandbox. Shaded and sunny seating is available to rest tired legs and feet while the little ones play.